It’s no secret that social media is changing the way we do business. But that’s not limited to how corporations interact with external stakeholders, it can have a large impact on internal stakeholders too.
Employees are one of the most important stakeholder groups, because, in reality, an engaged workforce is a productive workforce. In fact, a 2006 Conference Board study shows that in the long run, engaged companies outperform their less-engaged competitors by up to twenty-eight per cent! So you can see how important it is that organizations realize the value of an engaged workforce to their productivity and bottom line. Employers are always looking for new ways to engage employees, and using social media tools can help them work towards that goal.
Sabre Holdings is one of the world’s largest providers of travel products and services, and is a case in point for the successful use of social media in employee engagement. With a workforce of over 9,000 employees around the world, they recognized a unique need to connect with and build more meaningful connections with their globally-dispersed employee base.
Sabre decided to take an innovative, outside-the-box approach to social media and employee engagement, creating their own employee networking intranet in-house, aptly named Sabre Town.
This social networking platform allows employees to connect, ask questions, and find information, with all the functionality of most networking sites. Capabilities include employee profiles with unique, informal Q&As to help employees get to know one another (well beyond what you see in a standard employee directory listing); shared photos; blogs; user commenting; network connections and feeds, and; enterprise question and answer functionality, where an employee can pose a question to the entire organization and the site will automatically send the question to the 15 most relevant employees based on previous use and preferences.
Sabre Town’s capabilities have provided the organization and its employees with many benefits and impressive results. As of February 2010, the company saved $500,000 by eliminating duplication of work and solving business challenges through use of this social network platform. Several employee engagement and connectivity successes were also realized, including:
- 65% of all Sabre employees became active Sabre Town members in the first 3 months, increasing to over 90% today.
- 60% of questions are work-centric, helping find internal resources and solutions.
- 60% of questions are answered within 1 hour ; 90% of questions within 24 hours.
- Questions receive an average of 9 responses, providing content from contributors with a diverse background helping create better, more-informed solutions.
A few take-aways from Sabre’s experience with using social media to connect with and engage employees:
- Beta test your social network using a small group of employees who know the mission, tone, and how it works. When the platform is rolled out to all employees, the existing content can act as a model for how they use the space going forward.
- Motivation is key. Socialize the tools into the culture of your organization and how you do business. Help employees understand how the content they contribute helps others and the overall organization.
- Leverage leadership. The more senior leaders you can get on board to use social media, the more employee usage you will see.
Submitted by: Candace Berner-Rubie – SMBP Student, University of Waterloo.
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